Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Media interviews

1. Radio interviews are much more heuristic than press interviews and bckground interviews for TV. The press and TV actually do care exactly why your study is different from the others. The radio just wants you to give relevant 15 second quotes, so you end up talking about things that may have nothing to do with your study at all; they're just relevant to what the radio interviewer is thinking about. In every radio interview I find myself saying that parents need to talk about sex with their kids, which is pretty much what everyone says in response to this type of study.

And on the late night talk radio, I got to mention that graham crackers were invented to prevent masturbation. The host was upset. He eats them every day.

Average length of a press interview: 25 minutes. One of the best press interviews was 17 minutes with the New Scientist in London; I was impressed how efficiently he got the information compared with the other press who were about 10 minutes longer.

Radio interviews are at most 5 minutes. Very convenient that they are after the press interviews, so the press talking points can be narrowed down.

I have my first TV interview tomorrow, and then another next week.

2. It's hard to come up with good quotes just from talking. I wrote down the technical parts so that I could describe it accurately in an easy to understand way, but I left non-technical parts to ad lib. I didn't remember that it was even more important to write down my conclusions in an easy quote until the articles came out. My quotes in the Washington Post interview were very weak, and they would have been stronger if I had written out the quotes I wanted to appear in print in advance. The process of going from oral to writing is hard.

E.g., the following is the kind of thing I wish I had said in one sentence: "Parents should teach their kids how to use condoms. It doesn't cause them to have sex any earlier, but it could save their future health and fertility." But this type of sentence doesn't come out of your mouth so concisely if you're speaking off the cuff. At least, it doesn't come out of my mouth.

3. The news cycle goes so fast. I was in transit between Chicago and Baltimore from 7 am until 2 pm, and people weren't calling my cell phone (though they had before), so I missed USA Today, CBS Radio (national or DC, not sure), and possibly another.

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